Each Wednesday at 10am EST, we host a Weekly Communication Support Check-In to share best practices and discuss with each other how we are communicating differently (or the same) during the current social and health crisis. Here are some notes from this week’s meet-up that may help you navigate what’s most important to communicate now.


It’s Rough Out There

This week’s theme was a response in itself. Communication across all channels is really reflecting what’s happening in society and in our personal lives. It is reflecting pain, anger, fear, and confusion. And it is reflecting hope, ideas, and calls to action. Often it’s hard to summon energy to respond – and when we do, the thought of what to say can be perplexing. No one form or style of communication is going to be all and end all. What’s key to keeping it flowing is also having a practice of response. This week, we broke it down and discussed some ways to navigate.

Just when you think it’s flowing . . . 

Communicating is hard enough. We spend time thinking about what we need to communicate, making the content, and then juggling all the ways it needs to be shared. Then comes the other part of the equation: communication is a flow with audiences. It’s dynamic, it’s interpretive, and it never seems done. This IS the nature of communication. But there are ways to consciously engage in a practice that helps clear confusion and wasted energy based on what’s at the core of different types of communication.

Listen to the audio transcript to get the most out of this topic. Key Ideas from my own personal perspective are below.


KEY IDEAS:

  • The first thing I need to remember is my own communication eco-system and my abilities to respond – amid my own emotions and responsibilities. I need to be aware of my communications challenges and work through them before responding to anything right away. I may need to do that quickly, so having a grounding practice (take a breath, tap my wrist, etc.) can be helpful.

For our discussion about responding to “What Might Come Up” we reviewed types of communication from easiest-to-hardest.

  • Invitations & Requests – We all get a ton of e-mails and other messages. It’s easy to think “I can’t deal with this now, I’ll deal with it later.” But later often doesn’t come because the communications keep coming. It’s better to carve our time to be ready to be responsive (pro-actively checking e-mail instead of having them fly at you constantly is one way). And when you do, to just address the most direct ask that is being made of you. You don’t have to figure it all out at the same time you respond. 

    As an organization with a Mission, your really need to be ready to respond to invitations and requests. Do you have a designed system that can make that easier? If you find a lot of communication falling through the cracks, make that a priority.

  • Complicated, Confusing and/or Deflecting – This is happening a lot right now. People may not fully read what you communicated. They may interpret it differently than what you intended. They may respond with something that’s really confusing or completely off-topic. And they may be passively aggressively (or aggressively aggressively) trying to wield power out of self-protection. Whatever the core reason, the response-solution for this kind of challenge is CLARITY. 

    For the purpose of this discussion, we are focusing on Professional Responsibilities, which can make this challenge easier. Bringing the focus back through your “Mission Lens” is the level of responsibility that you have. You do not have to take responsibility for getting someone to acknowledge and understand if it’s at a cost of you getting through the communication that supports that mission.

    Referring back to your Action Plan Clarity tool can help you stay on topic and effectively move conversation.

  • Silence – This can really throw us communicators off. There are so many reasons why people might be silent. #1, your e-mail may have gone into a spam filter, your voice mail is not being listened to. Our communication is set up to connect quickly, but it can also get lost in the sauce. That’s more often the reason for silence these days.

    Not knowing what to say can also be a big reason for silence. I rely on a device that I learned at my first ROOTS Week (the annual gathering of Alternate ROOTS community):

    QTIP – Quick Taking it Personally 


    To help me navigate this, I often look at the kind of relationship I have with the person who is being “silent.”

    • Am I in a “Shared-Power” relationship with this person? If so, it’s super easy to check in. “Hey, did you get my e-mail?” Either party could do it. Just do it. 

    • Does this communication relate to my “Stewardship Responsibility?” If there is silence in response to an area that you are responsible for moving forward, then it’s up to you to take leadership action. You have to take responsibility for initiating another contact. A good rule of thumb I learned from my days as a canvasser is to attempt communication 3 times before assuming that lack of response is an intentional shut down of communication.

    • Am I in a Support Role for this person? If we are supporting others professionally, we also have a responsibility to do follow-up and check-in. Being pro-active is key. “Did you get my communication? Everything OK?”

  • Trolls, Hurtful & Weird Communication – In the face of this kind of communication, I always go to Core Values first. Most likely, my Core Values will help me understand right away how I need to respond. I have to decide how much energy I will spend on that and what impact that will have on my community. Within our Core Values at Social Impact, we take this kind of communication out of the public platform and invite a 1-1 conversation. Inviting within our value system and within our structure in accordance with our Mission. I avoid taking over-responsibility for ways that people navigate – because that’s the way we get distracted. Before responding, I decide how much energy I am going to expend. I look back at my Action Plan Clarity to confirm my priorities and allocation of energy.

    You might get thrown off because things are really weird and difficult right now. It’s part of what we are going through. Being prepared can help you in the moment.


RESOURCES:

Join the Weekly Communication Support Zoom on Weds @10am EST


 

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